Real-Time Observation of Nanocrystal Growth

August 21, 2009

Interim Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos and Ulrich Dahmen, director of Berkeley Lab’s National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM), led a team of experts in nanocrystal growth and electron microscopy who combined their skills to observe the dynamic growth of colloidal platinum nanocrystals in solution with subnanometer resolution. Their results showed that while some crystals in solution grow steadily in size via classical nucleation and aggregation – meaning molecules collide and join together – others grow in fits and spurts, driven by “coalescence events,” in which small crystals randomly collide and fuse together into larger crystals. Despite their distinctly different growth trajectories, these two processes ultimately yield a nearly monodisperse distribution of nanocrystals, meaning the crystals are all approximately the same size and shape.

A new technique known as “liquid cell in situ transmission electron microscopy,” in which the powerful resolution capabilities of a transmission electron microscope (TEM) are brought to bear on a liquid cell that allows liquids to be observed inside a vacuum, enables the visualization of single nanoparticles in solution. The Berkeley researchers deployed this technique on NCEM’s JEOL 3010 In-Situ microscope. Utilizing an electron beam operating at 300 kilovolts of energy, the JEOL 3010 provides outstanding specimen penetration and spatial resolution of about 8 angstroms through the thick liquid cell sample.

Original publication:

Zheng H, Smith RK, Jun YW, Kisielowski C, Dahmen U, Alivisatos AP (2009): Observation of Single Colloidal Platinum Nanocrystal Growth Trajectories. Science Jun 5;324(5932):1309-12.

Grant from NIH to Develop AFM Probes

August 19, 2009

Carbon Design Innovations has announced that it has grant in the amount of $390,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The grant will fund the development and commercialization of Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) probes for bioimaging and investigations in cellular biology. Carbon Design Innovations will collaborate with the University of California at Davis, US on the development of the probes.

Canada Gains New Centre for Nanotechnology

Juli 20, 2009

Alberta, Canada will soon be home to a new research and product development centre for nanotechnology called Hitachi Electron Microscopy Products Development Centre (HEMiC) at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) in Edmonton. The centre will house three new electron microscopes valued at $7 million. The $14 million project is supported by the Western Economic Partnership Agreement between the Governments of Canada and Alberta and to contributions from Hitachi High-Technologies. The HEMiC is made possible by a wider collaboration of the Alberta Ingenuity Fund’s nanoWorks program, the National Institute for Nanotechnology of the National Research Council, the University of Alberta and Hitachi High Technologies Canada Inc. One of the centre’s first projects will evaluate and test the world’s sharpest electron emitter, developed by the Molecular Scale Devices group at NINT for use as an electron source in electron microscopes.

Nanotech Europe Moves to Berlin

Juli 7, 2009

Nanotech Europe 2009, an annual conference and exhibition on nanotechnology will be held in Berlin, Germany from September 28-30, 2009. The event offers a broad, interdisciplinary overview of nanotechnology, and the opportunity to meet and discuss with the field’s top scientists and international companies in the nanotechnology community. The fifth Nanotech Europe has a broad scope, covering leading-edge research, industrial applications and cross-cutting topics including electronics, photonics, materials, health and bio, instrumentation, energy as well as safety and investment. In total, 36 sessions will be held by over 180 speakers from both academia and industry.

Brandenburger Tor, Berlin, Germany (source:

Brandenburger Tor, Berlin, Germany (source:

The World’s Smallest Automated Syringe

Juli 6, 2009

Tomaso Zambelli, a researcher in the group led by Janos Vörös, Professor at the Institute of Biomedical Technology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, has presented a nanosyringe for automated injection of DNA, RNA and medicines into cells without damaging them.
To create this syringe, called “fluid force microscope”, Zambelli transformed the technology of the atomic force microscope into a microinjection system. In contrast to a conventional manual system, the pressure exerted on the cell by the measuring needle is adjusted so accurately that the cell is not damaged unnecessarily. A laser is responsible for the control, recording every movement of the cantilever and adjusting the force on the cell several thousand times a second. The system also operates under water or in other liquids. To enable the injection of liquids, scientists at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) in Neuchâtel installed a microchannel in the cantilever – the diameter of the opening at the needle tip is only 200 nanometers.
In addition to having biological uses, the method could also be applied in the manufacture of microelectronics or microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The results have been published in Nano Letters.

Euro Atomic Force Microscopy Forum

April 27, 2009

Asylum Research, in conjunction with IMETUM, Nano Initiative Munich, and Atomic Force F&E, announces the 2nd Euro AFM Forum to be held at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Garching, Germany, July 1-3, 2009. The event is a conference for AFM researchers to share their cutting-edge research for both materials and life science applications. The forum will combine invited and contributed talks from leading European researchers as well as instructional workshops on AFM equipment. Workshop topics include cell imaging, imaging in liquids, force spectroscopy, electrical characterization and more.
Participants are invited to submit their best AFM image for the Forum Image Contest. An iPod Nano will be awarded for the best image that represents innovative science and has the „cool“ factor. The deadline for submission is June 1, 2009.

Surface of a Chestnut. DC mode in air. Taken by Thomas Gutsmann, Research Center Borstel, Germany

Surface of a Chestnut, DC mode in air. Taken by Thomas Gutsmann, Research Center Borstel, Germany (participant of the 2007 event).

London Travel in Miniature

Februar 12, 2009

Researchers at Bio Nano Consulting (BNC), London, UK, have produced a miniaturized version of the London tube map, measuring only 2×3 mm. The map was etched using lasers by Dr Richard Winkle, a BNC researcher at Imperial College London, whilst testing the capabilities of a laser micromachining system. The ‚London Nanotube‘ was aptly named as nanotubes are an essential building block for nanotechnology. Dr Mike Fisher, business development director of BNC commented, „This version of the London Nanotube is not strictly on the nanoscale. We believe we can shrink the tube map another 100 times, making it invisible to the naked eye.“

The London Nanotube

The London Nanotube